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Agreement on Feni River without Teesta is unacceptable

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06th-Jun-2020       
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THE Indian government's latest position to secure a lasting water sharing agreement on Feni River sidetracking commitment for signing a simultaneous agreement on Teesta River as reported by an English daily on Friday is clearly an unexpected and unwelcomed move. Without Teesta we can't go for Feni River. Teesta water sharing was a priority till 2011 but it was then taken for simultaneously signing with Feni River on pressure of the Indian government.
India now wants a permanent agreement on Feni River leaving Teesta water sharing unresolved. We must say it is totally unacceptable to Bangladesh but the big brotherly outlook of the Indian government is now attempting to achieve its goal ignoring the sentiment of the people of Bangladesh. It is bringing pressure on Awami League government knowing its vulnerability well.  
India is already withdrawing water from Feni River under a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2019 during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Delhi. Its latest reported pressure on Bangladesh for starting work for a permanent agreement keeping Teesta out essentially gives the impression that India is set to keep its promise unfulfilled.
River Teesta is a lifeline for north-west Bangladesh where the soil system is becoming totally barren in want of water during dry season. The river looks like a canal during summer with sand dunes running through the banks. Irrigation for food production and fishing has become almost impossible in this part of Bangladesh leaving local population to languish without enough means of livelihood.
Compared to this situation the Indian government case for Feni River to provide drinking water to people of Belonia town is just a minor issue and what is noticeable is that Bangladesh has already meted out this demand. Signing an agreement is not a major issue but the Indian government attempt to sidetrack Teesta every time has reason to create serious misgivings.We can't simply afford it.
Agreement on Teesta water sharing was dropped at the last minute during Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's visit to Dhaka in 2011. West Bengal Chief Minister's objections were cited for that. Bangladesh and Indian prime ministers on that occasion agreed to work for concluding the water sharing agreements on Teesta and Feni simultaneously at the earliest. Now Indian government is further complicating the Teesta issue adding Sikkim as a stakeholder along with West Bengal.
India is a good friend of Bangladesh which helped us in winning our Liberation War. But such irritants and trust deficit from the Indian side are poised to threaten the good foundation of our people to people relation. We would say India must be cautious in bringing such which may only add more distrust in our good relation.

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